Estimates Show Commercial Driver Detention Increases Crash Risks and Costs, but Current Data Limit Further Analysis
What We Looked At
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015 (FAST Act) directs FMCSA to issue regulations that cover the collection of data on delays experienced by CMV operators before the loading and unloading of their vehicles. The act also directs the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to report on the effects of driver detention. Accordingly, we conducted this audit to (1) assess available data on delays in motor carrier loading and unloading, and (2) provide information on measuring the potential effects of loading and unloading delays. In addressing our objectives, we also reviewed FMCSA’s plan to collect data on driver detention.
What We Found
Accurate industrywide data on driver detention do not currently exist because most industry stakeholders measure only time spent at a shipper or receiver’s facility beyond the limit established in shipping contracts. Available electronic data cannot readily discern detention time from legitimate loading and unloading tasks, and are unavailable for a large segment of the industry.
We estimated that a 15-minute increase in average dwell time—the total time spent by a truck at a facility—increases the average expected crash rate by 6.2 percent. In addition, we estimated that detention is associated with reductions in annual earnings of $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion for for-hire commercial motor vehicle drivers in the truckload sector. For motor carriers in that sector, we estimated that detention reduces net income by $250.6 million to $302.9 million annually.
FMCSA’s plan to collect data on driver detention does not call for collection or detailed analysis of reliable or representative data, and the Agency has no plans to verify the data that motor carriers and drivers would provide. As a result, the data may not accurately describe how the diverse trucking industry experiences driver detention, which would limit any further analysis of impacts.
FMCSA concurred with our recommendation to improve future plans for collection of data on driver detention.